Top Five Tips for Using Technology to have an eco-friendly Christmas

Christmas festivities have an alarming impact on our environment due to wasted food, unnecessary packaging and extra travelling.

83 square km of wrapping paper and 6 million roles of sellotape are sold every year leading up to Christmas, while 4.2 million Christmas dinners are wasted across the UK. Small changes can be made to our Christmas routine such as ensuring our festive feasts are bought locally or buying a sustainable tree. However, technology can help decrease your carbon footprint beyond the holiday season. Surely, the environment is for life, not just for Christmas!

Christmas waste statistics infographic

LED lights

We are guilty of leaving our Christmas tree lights on for 10 hours a day over the 12 days of Christmas. This produces enough CO2 to inflate 12 balloons. Switching to LEDs (Light Emitting Diode) is a quick and simple way to dramatically reduce your Christmas impact. LEDs use up to 95% less energy than traditional bulbs and can last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors, before being replaced. Plus, their low energy means that their running costs are minimal.

Smarten up your home

With the extra time spent at home watching Christmas movies, it is a good time to consider the smart technology. Smart tech can reduce your footprints and your energy bills for Christmas and beyond. From remotely controlled bulbs to smart thermostats, there are a variety of ways that you can connect your home and be more smart about energy usage. Smart switches, for example, allow you to control your appliances automatically from your smartphone. With smart thermostat like Hive or Nest, you can manage your heating schedule, while GPS can detect when you’re on your way home.

Go online

It is debatable whether online shopping is a more environmentally friendly alternative to visiting a shopping centre. Once the extra pollution and traffic congestion caused by returns or rush delivery are factored in, online shopping may not be as green as we think. Scientists calculated Santa would have to visit 822 homes a second to deliver all his presents, travelling at 650 miles a second! Rushed shipping may be causing more carbon emissions than if presents had been when running errands or bought locally.

However, going online for other aspects of your Christmas routine cuts out unnecessary production of products. More than a billion cards are delivered every year- that’s enough to stretch around the world five times. While Christmas cards are considered an unbreakable tradition, the environmental impact is an unnecessary use of resources and postal mileage. With the ability to add video and interactivity, e-cards can be as exciting as a handwritten greeting. In a recent survey, a third of young people chose to send virtual messages over a card. A fifth of people admitted they won’t send a Christmas card this year at all. 47% of young professionals will simply send a text to their friends and family, while 38% would choose Social Media. Although some may consider this the end of a tradition, online greetings is a big step towards an eco-friendly Christmas.

Rechargeable batteries

How many batteries will you need this year to feed new toys and gadgets? The toxic chemicals used are bad for the environment and harmful to humans and wildlife. Rechargeable batteries not only conserve resources but also can save money despite their initial costs. USBCELL batteries can be charged using a USB stick and the powerslayer USB charger only delivers energy when needed preventing overcharging and wasted energy.

Green gadgets

Promote sustainability amongst your friends and family by giving a fun green gadget. The port solar charger charges your phone while attached to a window, converting natural daylight into power for your devices. The Water Pebble is a gadget that helps reduce the amount of water wasted by taking long showers. It monitors the amount of water used and displays different lights to help you to shorten your shower. Alternatively find hand powered alternatives of gadgets that won’t require batteries, such as the Sun & Cloud Camera, a digital camera that is solar powered or wound by hand.

At ITVET we are keen to promote sustainability. Technology doesn’t only help maintain our environment but it also makes good business sense.

Read our previous blog post for information about how sustainability can boost productivity. If you would like to discuss how to improve your company’s footprint email [email protected] or call 01279 464 470.


Sustainability: 5 examples of how sustainable tech improves productivity

IT sustainability

We recently visited Regent Street’s annual sustainability day at the newly refurbished 7 Air Street to discuss their environmental initiatives. From waste repurposing to endorsing health and well-being amongst their staff members, the management behind the Regent Street’s buildings are conscious of how their work affects their carbon footprint and the surrounding community. Introducing measures such as rooftop allotments and bee keeping, Regent Street Management Direct are pioneering interesting ways of promoting sustainability. We were at the event to discuss how technology reduces your carbon footprint and boost the productivity of your employees.

These five changes to your IT will improve your company’s sustainability but at the same can save you money too:

 

paper free

Encourage your team to go paperless

Printing documents wastes paper, toner and energy. Going paperless cuts down on deforestation, pollution and fuel consumption; do you really need a hard copy of that Excel spreadsheet? The benefits don’t stop there though, a paperless office is more organized and secure. Instead of searching through scraps of paper and needing giant filing cabinets to store documents, going digital allows speedier file searching, secure backups and a tighter hold of document version control.

If there are essential documents that must be printed, encourage double sided printing and ensure that your printer’s toner settings are optimized to the lowest settings. This saves on resources to guarantee that your machine is not using more ink than necessary.

Night energy saving PC

switch PCs off at night or when not in use

Encourage your team to turn off machines or on to power save mode at night or when they are away from their desks. This will save money on bills but prevents power wastage, improving your sustainability. Computers also benefit from an occasional reboot as it allows updates.

sustainable technology

Replace old hardware and processes

Old hardware is less energy efficient. We can provide you with lower energy, fully recyclable hardware solutions, saving you money on your energy bills. Updated equipment prevent your employees from being held back by slow, laggy, overheating machines, alleviating frustration and boosting productivity. Replacing redundant technologies such as fax or franking machines with newer technology allows speedier working and saves money on resources.

remote working

Consider working remotely

Allowing employees to work remotely cuts down on space needed in office with fewer desks and less hardware needed. Home workers pay for their own computers, electricity and other utilities saving you money. Plus, Reducing the number of employees commuting to the office cuts down the pollution caused by traveling. Video conferencing for meetings is a further example of how remote technology improves efficiency, by saving you on travel cost and wasted time. Again, this allows resources to be used more effectively and promote greener ways of working.

data automation

Can you automate this process?

Using software to automate processes where possible, reduces the amount of labour required for potentially simple tasks. This saves on resources and improves productivity by allowing repeated tasks to work seamlessly in the background so your team can work on more important tasks rather than inconvenient menial ones. Automation reduces errors, enforces standards and ensures accountability by taking out the potential for human error and being able to track steps of processes.

Once automated, collecting data from the different aspects of your business allows you to capture key info and help pinpoint where productivity can be optimized. This gives you insight into what parts of your company works well and what can be done to improve. The ability to streamline processes and work more efficiently as a company improves sustainability reducing lost time, benefiting the whole team.

If you would like to discuss how you can improve your business’ sustainability email [email protected] or call 01279 464 470.


Review: The iPad Pro, is bigger always better?

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The biggest debate since the Pro’s release is whether the iPad pro will replace the laptop and what is the functionality of an oversized tablet. We have been road testing Apple’s latest product in the ITVET offices to see if we have any answers.

Size – How big is too big?
Our first reviewer, ITVET Director, Richard Fountain, did have some initial misgivings about whether the size of the new tablet will affect the durability: “The first thing that hits you when you open the box is how big the iPad Pro is. In the hand it feels awkward due to the size, plus the thinness makes it feel like it is fragile and easy to drop. So a robust case might be required depending on the intended use. Don’t get me wrong it is very thin which keeps the weight down, but from a handling perspective it makes it difficult to grip in some respect.” The size seems to be the most commented upon feature in the first reviews. Although it may be uncomfortable to hold, the size of the screen is perfect for sharing. Whether sharing a trailer with friends for an upcoming movie or a sales presentation to your client, the high quality and scale of the screen allows for crystal clear viewing. As our director discovered, this latest edition to the iPad family is a perfect companion when working out of the office as it fits perfectly in an A4 portfolio case that was used before ITVET became paperless. “It was a perfect size for making presentations being fractionally smaller than an A4 piece of paper. Also making it a perfect replacement for A4 notepads for those paper bound diehards”.
So perhaps the question how big is too big, really depends on what you are looking to use the iPad for…

Purpose – Business or pleasure?

Business
So the question everyone is asking – can the iPad Pro ever replace a laptop? While it may seem heavier and bulkier than all previous tablet versions, it is much less heavy than carrying a laptop. If your work takes you out of the office regularly it would be ideal to have a slick device that is ‘nearly, but not quite a laptop’ – although I’m not totally convinced how a bigger screen makes this any more of a laptop rival than the previous iPad versions. As Richard found whilst visiting a client, “the Pro was perfect for my presentation but that is only one use and one would not think this a big enough market to make it a success for Apple.” While the Pro is great for on the move it is not ideal for large word processing – trying to type large amounts of text is quite a task. Apple has developed a smart keyboard that would counteract this problem but equally this racks up the price on an already expensive device. The price of the iPad plus the smart keyboard is not that different to the price of a laptop.

pro pencil

Testing the Apple Pencil

With palm touch rejection and the introduction of the Apple Pencil, many of the new features seem to be design orientated. I did find drawing on the Pro a very enjoyable experience especially with the Apple Pencil. The pencil is very intuitive giving the affect and feeling of drawing on paper. Plus, from the perspective of a left-hander, I found the palm rejection great. Although there is nothing that can replicate the joy of drawing on paper, for practicality the iPad Pro probably wins. The Apple Pencil recognises different pressures so instinctively that sketching and shading feels and looks no different to anything in my sketchbooks. The size does make it uncomfortable and awkward to hold with one hand which would be an inconvenience if drawing on location. However, being able to instantly upload creations to social media or email is beyond useful and I imagine, in a business sense, how valuable it would be have the ability to share ideas so easily.

According to a lot of reviewers the surface Pro has already had many of these features, but as it seems to be the case with Apple, they have arrived late to the party but wearing a very slick outfit that has grabbed everyone’s attention. As it has been with their first smartwatch and adopting force touch in the latest iPhone, Apple grabs technology that already exists, brings it to a mass audience and gets everyone talking about how this is the beginning of the future. It is only since the Pro’s introduction that the laptop’s status is considered threatened – but even with further development could the iPad really ever cause the laptop’s demise?

Entertainment
For entertainment or home use the Pro’s hefty price tag may not be justifiable. Admittedly, the excellent quality of the speakers and screen image do make for great Netflix viewing. However, the size and weight makes it uncomfortable to sit or relax with, plus the screen feels too big and bright to sit that close to. I did find it effective to watch catch up tv whilst cooking – the speakers were loud enough to fill a room and the screen big enough to see from the other side of the kitchen.

So is bigger better? Sometimes – it really depends on how you use your tablet and what you are looking for. Personally, I found the features and the overall quality perfect and it was the first time I ever realised how inferior my old school iPad 2 really is. For me though, I may consider upgrading but the Pro is slightly too big for what I would use it for.

Features

Dual Screen:
Because of the extreme size, split screens are where the Pro really takes off. The side bar is great for taking notes or quickly checking a second app. Dual screen allows two apps to be used at once, which is great for referencing websites while using the word processing or sketching apps, especially as each screen is about the size of a standard iPad Air.

Keyboard:
Again, thanks to the size of the screen a full sized QWERTY keyboard is available on screen. This is particularly useful when typing email addresses where in the past I have had to switch between the letters, numbers, and symbols options multiple times. However, for word processing I think it would be tiresome to type long documents on a touch screen, even with the additional keys. This may be why Apple released the smart keyboard to run alongside the iPad, as otherwise it would never be a contender to replace the laptop.

dual screen

Dual screen feature

Battery life:
The battery life lasted well – although charging takes some time, even when on aeroplane mode. With regards to the Apple Pencil, it did seem strange needing to charge a pencil – although the battery life seems to be very good. It also felt peculiar that it has to be plugged into the charging socket on the iPad itself although the pencil does come with an adaptor so that a standard lightening cable can be used instead. With the pencil jutting out of the end of the iPad this doesn’t seem the safest method of charging but destruction test videos have proven that it is harder to break than it looks. Even, so it just appears awkward and you would have thought that with Apple’s design capabilities, they would have thought of a more inventive way.

Conclusions:
Overall, I would say that practicality is key with the iPad Pro – in some ways it would be the Clarkes’ shoes of the fashion world. While David Attenborough documentaries do look quite spectacular on the Pro, the hefty price tag may be slightly too big to swallow for just Netflix, Facebook and Candy crush. The bigger scale allows for the Pro to be more functional for word processing or creating artwork – but it is less chic or slick as some of the smaller models. It may not be cute but it is much lighter than lugging around a laptop all day, if that is something that you do. In some ways I believe that the Pro is all about sharing – the ease of producing notes or sketches combined with the ability to send ideas back and forth would make discussion (particularly design based) faster and easier. I would say for the ability to present documents, designs and proposals, bigger may be better. Or possibly, bigger means more to share.


 

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, email [email protected] or call us on 01279 464 470.